Thursday, September 28, 2006


i was going through some of my poetry last night. it's funny how looking at it as a body is different from focusing on individual pieces. there's a lot of pain about matters of the heart disguised in those poems as sarcasm or defiance. i can look at them and see how much i've been learning through experience, and i can compare my current life to them and really appreciate how happy i am now, not just comparatively, but in general.

i'm in a writing spurt. i've been finishing old poems and fleshing out old ideas that i'm glad i scribbled down. and my ears are perky - i keep finding inspiration in things i hear. i'm glad for it. times like these make the slow going times bearable.


anyway, my parents have lots of mirrors in the bathroom and the guest room at their house, where i stayed last weekend. now i know i've been gaining weight steadily all year, and i know part of it is due to inactivity and an unstable diet and more than likely, a change in metabolism. i've been aware of that. but i still can fit in my clothes - the same size i wore in high school. (it's just that the fit is tighter, which isn't wholly a good or bad thing.) i actually like the new weight - i've been wanting to gain weight for years now. i lost the eight pounds i gained after my first year of college after i pledged my sorority and had all those step practices, and it's been hard to gain weight since...

where is that step practice now?

i didn't like what i saw in the mirrors at my parents'. it wasn't the me that i'm used to seeing, and i could live with that... if my reflection didn't look unhealthy to me. i've always thought that i wouldn't mind gaining weight as long as it looked healthy and attractive. i look great with my clothes on... but i wanna feel comfortable and not self-conscious at the beach, and at this point, i wouldn't.

i'm doing crunches and bicycles and push-ups almost daily. i may even start jogging, and budget willing, i'ma stop procrastinating on getting a bike. hopefully i won't lose weight, or not much weight, anyway. hopefully i'll just shape up. i discovered over the weekend that i'm too self-conscious (and vain) and accustomed to looking a certain way to let my body do just anything it wants. and i can't depend on my metabolism anymore - now, i'm a mere mortal who has to work out to stay cute, just like everybody else. i'm not happy about it, but it doesn't matter. i have to do what i have to do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

fits, spurts, commitment

went out to a big night at the womb yesterday. i was flipping through my notebooks, trying to figure out which of my poems i wanted to read on the open mic, and i came across those unfinished pieces. inspired by a friend of mine who was scribbling, i took out my own pen and started scribbling furiously. it wasn't easy - i was at a venue with friends all over the place, some of whom i hadn't even seen in months! there was interesting conversation all around that competed with the poetry... there were even french fries! but by the time the evening was finished, i'd fleshed out drafts of two poems.

and after going away for the weekend, and being tied up with appointments and catching up on rest, here i am blogging again.

the writing comes in fits and spurts. but i'm committed to keep trying.

anyway, my trip was to witness the wedding of some friends in virginia. i had a really good time. my date was amazing - i hate it when guys don't want to dance, and my date hung in there with me for the whole fete. anyway, i stayed with my parents for the weekend, since they were within driving distance of the wedding. life is good. i am really happy to have a good relationship with my parents, and my grandma, who i also visited while i was away. some folks don't have family they can relate to and i'm blessed to have an abundance of loved ones. kinda like how my friends, who are now married, have families that are willing to drive or fly out-of-state to witness their vows and their celebration. that is priceless. i enjoyed seeing old folks and little toddlers and everyone in between all mixed in sharing love and food and a dance floor and well wishes for the bride and groom. it's inspiring. especially when you think about how those tables and tables full of families branched forth from a couple here, and a couple there, who like my friends, let their friendship develop into love, and let that love develop into commitment, and let that commitment develop into family. that's beautiful.

and for the record, the bride and groom jumped the broom. i love that tradition, if for no other reason than the fact that it reminds us of our past in a positive way. now our brooms are covered in flowers and ribbons, reflecting the beauty of the occasion. we are blessed to be able to remember who we were - 3/5 of a human, incapable of legally or spiritually consenting to the covenant of matrimony - yet simultaneously with this very act of remembrance, we're able to honor our people of that past, whose broom-made commitments made our homes and the inspiring and nurturing love within them possible. now we jump because we want to, not because we can't get a marriage license and the approval of a religious institution. and that's possible because of the love and persistence of the ancestors. the broom honors them and their commitment to us.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

state of the pen address

last night i noticed that i have about five unfinished ideas for new pieces of poetry. some of them i'm procrastinating on, but others have simply fallen into the cobwebs of my mind, and the only reason i remember them now is because i came across some scribbles in my second marble composition notebook... guess i better get on it.

i was telling a colleague yesterday that i am a writer - that i write poetry and short stories, and that i read my stuff in public. he wanted to know more about the content of the poetry, and i told him, social... political... cultural... (i left out erotic and spiritual and introspective and that i can't even label some of it) and then i simply told him that those are among other things. i didn't feel comfortable telling him all my business - he don't know me like that. then he wanted to know which predominated between them, and i couldn't answer that straight. i didn't even want to answer that. i told him that none of them can, because my poems express many facets of myself, that we are all multifaceted people, and that part of the beauty of an individual is their variety, and in that way, part of the goodness in my body of poetry is its variety.

he probed further. he wanted to know about the type of short stories i wrote. i thought of the stories about little nyla and her mother arlene. i suppose he thought i'd answer with something easily categorized - mystery, science fiction, or something like that. i felt penned in a corner. these were too many questions! my kneejerk internal reaction was that this somewhat older man, this white man would never understand me. and frankly, i didn't want him to understand that much about me. perhaps that wasn't fair to him - i think he just wanted to relate to me, and show some interest in me as a person, but i felt probed. i shirked that question by saying that i don't write many stories but that the ones i do are fiction, "and that's as far as i'd go with that," leaving him to wonder about my work, and showing him that there was a line of privacy his questions were breaching.

i still don't know what to make of that exchange.

also, i allowed myself to be talked into something new yesterday. i read a poem and allowed music to be created that was inspired by its content - i was so very scared to do that! i liked my words the way they are! i didn't want them changed by music. i didn't want to take the chance that the union between the words and the music would take away the meaning and the feeling of the words, which weren't ever meant to be lyrics, and which, in fact, are better suited for the paper they were written on than the mic. but because i was scared, and because i trusted the producer to truly try to respect my jealousy over my creation (i'm an artist, and i'm sensitive about my isht), i faced the fear. i don't like being punked by my fear of things, and i often try new stuff for that very reason. the music is a work in progress, but i'll say this. i don't think my words are offended or compromised. and that truly inspires me!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


i got a new pen and a new highlighter.

a guy asked me for some help yesterday and when i did, he didn't want it to be charity. he has pride. he wanted me to walk away with something in my hand.

so he gave me a pen and a highlighter, and he told me that he would pray for me.

i thanked him. i need the prayer.

people like him who don't even have much are capable of giving of themselves. why not me, that much more? he inspired me. he helped me to remember generosity. and dignity.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

well written

we are a haunted people.

right now i'm reading paule marshall's the chosen place, the timeless people. she's one of my favorite authors, and i've read almost all of her novels. they transport the reader throughout the many facets of the diaspora, which i've been fascinated with for some time, but even more so lately. the only thing about reading this excellent book, though, is that it challenges the reader to explore the bright and dark areas of the african psyche, affected by slavery, colonialism, classism, racism...

it's hard to go on the internet and interact with other black people without coming across debates about the current status of african people in this country and around the world. there are also the statistics about unemployment, crime, incarceration, educational achievement, economic status... there are discussions about culture and image and social statuses and behaviors. there is a world of thinking - a world of talk. shelves of books, reams of editorials, a legion of talking heads, all devoted in some way to discussing, analyzing, maybe even trying to solve the peculiar phenomenon that is the aftermath of our past trauma, and the question of how to assess our current trauma.

it can be overwhelming, reading it all, listening to it all - and not even all of it. one well written provocative blurb could cause someone contemplative like me a whole day's worth of head scratching or a whole week's worth of probing the opinions of my closest friends. sometimes it's more than that - sometimes the introspection leads me to confront painful personal feelings and experiences that i struggle to rationalize and understand, often regarding my place in the melee.

sometimes i just get tired and i need a break. i can't zip off my skin or cast my mind aside, but sometimes, i have to refrain from reading and participating in the discussions. perhaps it may even be necessary to put down the novels i've been voraciously devouring. especially ones like my current read. i feel myself being compelled to finish the story, even though i know that the truths it forces me to confront are challenging me in ways that distress me - ways that interrupt the personal security of my old understanding and make me reconsider the way that i regard myself and face the world.

i might not be able to read for a little while after this one...

Monday, September 18, 2006

learning stuff

i went to a concert last week that was really a good time. it was outside in the park, and it featured one very talented dj and one very talented band. i learned that it is possible to really get to higher heights when it comes to breath control. the drummer in the band was also the lead singer, and the songs they were playing were dance music - house music - the kind where if you danced and gave your all to the rhythm, by the time you'd finish, you'd be completely spent, if you danced to their whole set. yet this man was drumming his behind off and singing at the same time. folks, that's not something that most people have the cardiovascular fortitude to do - let alone the talent to do it well. as a poet who reads my work before others and attends slams regularly, i see that sometimes it's difficult for people to get through their pieces without their breath faltering unless they have some understanding of breath control, especially if/when they're getting really really passionate about a piece, and their delivery requires lots of energy and passion. but i see that it's not impossible to marry that passion with good articulation if you have enough breath, and that drummer in that band is a master. even with my pieces, which don't tend to make me winded, i think that there's something that anyone who performs out loud can learn regarding breath control...

i went to a party yesterday afternoon and had a good time... the folks and the music spilled out of the place and into the street, and in the overflow, off to the side, there were people doing all kinds of stuff - playing with fire, breaking, and other miscellaneous stuff - and something that caught my eye was the hula hooper. now, i have a hula hoop at home, 'cause it's fun to play with on occasion, and friends come by and try to use it. i put it around my waist and play with it and i'm good at it - i never let it drop from my waist. but this girl yesterday? she was hooping around her raised hand, bringing it down her arm to her waist, bringing it back up to her neck and off of her neck, out to pass between her wrists... she was good! and lucky for me, she had a few extra hoops, and i got to play with one. she told me things that helped me to do some of what she was doing - she was great at that, probably 'cause she teaches a class, and because she practices often. as good as she is, she's still learning. she hopes to hoop with fire soon! i think i'll keep on practicing what she taught me (but not with a mind towards hooping with fire!).

this is me yesterday

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


my house is a mess. i must clean. i hope i don't break a nail. if i do, i'll just deal with it, 'cause, my house is a mess.

i need to wash the dishes, do some laundry, vacuum the floor, and get the bathroom floor. well.

i don't feel like it.

but the longer i wait, the worse it's gonna get. and the worse it gets, the less i'll feel like it. and the less i feel like it, the longer i'ma wait. it's a unforgiving vicious circle of mess. i understand why people get maids. i can't afford one. if i could, i wouldn't pay one to clean my house, 'cause i'm too chea practically frugal, and 'cause i'm too proud of what few homemaking abilities i do have.

if it gets worse, i'ma have to move. i can't live in the midst of this mess. mess makes me feel claustrophobic.

okay, i'll clean.

stupid independence.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


i don't usually like to talk about the contents of my dreams with people, 'cause people are strange. they like to get all freudian on you, and tell you dumb stuff like you have a latent sexual attraction towards your parents or you have a deep seated fear of cheese or something stupid like that. but in my parents' house, there are two dream books. partly because my parents play the numbers. partly because my mom believes what they say. i've shared my dreams with my mom before, 'cause, well, she's my mom.

while she was here, the morning that she left, i had a dream that i was with her, out somewhere on a pier or a boat or something, fishing. this isn't surprising, mom and dad love to go fishing, and part of my childhood was spent staring at worms and watching lines for tautness and waiting for something exciting to happen, like a fight with a bucking striper or porgie. my mom and i had our hooks baited and our lines cast in the water, and then i felt a tug so dramatic that somehow i'd left off of the rod and was pulling on the line, struggling with both the fish's protest and the slipperiness of that slight plastic line. i turned to my mom to ask for help, but before she was able to get to me, i pulled with all the might in my arms, back, and shoulders, and the fish came to me.

it was beautiful. the fish was also huge, spanning the length of my outstretched arms. it wasn't shaped like a fish you catch, though - it was shaped more like a fish from the pet store, and it looked like one, too. it was so white and iridescent, it was like it was glowing brilliantly. at the end of my catch, my body was spent, and for a fleeting moment, i felt bad that my sport had harmed the fish. but it was as if the fish somehow understood my feelings - it looked directly at me, and as a way of consoling my conscience, the fish laid itself out willingly and died as if it wanted to die - as if it were a lamb to slaughter who realized its death would be beneficial to the butcher.

mom says that's an employment dream (not a pregnancy dream, all you soul food enthusiasts). she had a big fish dream like that one before she started her job, and that's what the dream meant for me, she says. according to her (and her dream book, which she checked as soon as she went back home) i should receive good and beneficial employment soon. now that would be nice!

i don't know how much stock i put in dream books, since i figure that if dreams mean anything, it's tailored to individuals, their cultures, their beliefs, and their personal lenses on the world. but i know that it's not often you can look my dreams up in books. for example, one i've had since then involved me being on the run with someone with three white children - a boy, a girl, and a baby girl, out in the midwest somewhere. (i know no such family in real life.) we went shopping at w.almar.t (i fed the baby m.cdona.ld's french fries that she hardly even wanted) and then we went to a car dealership at some point, to buy a car which would up being a lemon. we were hagging at some other dealership when, for her safety, i had to take the baby girl and split from the rest, wrapping her in a cloak to keep her warm and hidden and disappearing into the night...

it was at this point that i realized i knew kung fu, 'cause we were under attack and i had to defend us. we were out by a lake and a highway, and i was running all over the place, kicking much ass...ailant behind. all with three limbs only, 'cause i had the baby under the cloak in my left arm, tucked like a football on my chest the whole time. i was cracking skulls together and defeating the foes who outnumbered me and kept coming in every direction. the longer and more noticeably i fought in this public place, the more folks kept coming up, challenging my dangerous kung fu style. now that was fun.

i bet my mama can't find that in no dream book.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memoriam, Cathy LoGuidice

click here for one of Cathy's favorite groups

Catherine Lisa LoGuidice and I have precious little in common. She was born nine years before me and lived several states away. I've never met her. Perhaps on one of her adventures, chasing down some hard rock star or heading out to defy death on a mountain biking trip, she wound up on a road trip, and maybe she passed me in a car on I-95 once and neither one of us knew it. I've come to believe that it's a smaller world than we think this is, and the Pisces within me likes to believe that the connection between me and Catherine is on purpose.

A big part of Catherine's life was love - she had the time and heart for lots of it. She loved her two god-daughters, and friends and family members. She had even found the kind of love that people pray and wish for in a fiancee, an old friend she'd known since high school. She was planning to get married to Erick Elberth, and all of her friends and family celebrated with her at a bridal shower. She was a beloved daughter to Catherine Masak and Carmelo LoGuidice, sister to Lucy and Michael, and an aunt to many. A part-time veterinary assistant, Catherine loved animals, too. One thing that she definitely shared with me was a love of reading - Anne Rice was one of her favorites! I can imagine her four cats finding other things to do while she got all wrapped up in some intriguing story packed with horror and suspense.

Her life seemed full. Her taste in music - on the edge. Her taste in stories - on the edge. Her sky diving and mountain biking - on the edge. This woman, of tattooes, intricate Halloween costumes, and horror movies wasn't one-sided, though. Her brother Michael knew that she loved Thoreau so much that she once travelled to his famous retreat, Walden Pond. She also took up Tai Chi, an ancient art characterized by its graceful and gentle movements that inspire health and inner peace.

What's crazy is that you could walk past Cathy, as her friends and family called her, on a crowded street - bump into her maybe - and never know all of the wonderfully interesting stuff about the woman you were bumping into.

When the planes hit those towers on September 11, 2001, I was in bed, getting ready to wake up and go to class across town. Catherine was at work. She was an assistant bond trader for a firm called Cantor Fitzgerald. As a nation, we were all shaken and confused while the tragedy was happening, but I can't imagine how Cathy and her family felt in particular on that morning.

She died that day, five years ago, at the age of thirty. She was on the 105th floor in the first tower, and it's pretty likely that she just wasn't able to get to a safe place. Like many of us, she hadn't thought much about the World Trade Center attack in 1993 since it happened. Her job was at the World Trade Center, so that's where she stayed for the several years to follow.

When she was memorialized, donations to the ASPCA were requested instead of flowers, honoring her animal-loving spirit. After her death, and the deaths of 2,995 others, I mourned, wearing black for two days and crying for many more, shocked and deeply moved by the television images of people wandering the area near the towers with signs seeking their missing loved ones. At the time, and even now, I am just a fellow American with no direct connection to the tragedy. But I suspect that Cathy's family felt the impact of the tragedy much more intensely, and I suspect that today, and every day, they remember Cathy's life more lovingly than I ever could. They, and the other 2,995 families of the deceased and missing, have my most reverent sympathy.

I hope that those who knew Cathy can get joy from their memories of what they loved most about her, and that if they are able to learn anything from the way she lived her life, that they'll honor her memory by doing so.

May her spirit rest in peace.

Thanks to and for information on Cathy that served as the source of this tribute.